Canada announces Immigration Levels Plan 2024-2026

Edana Robitaille, Kareem El-Assal
Published: November 1, 2023

Canada has released its Immigration Levels Plan 2024-2026.

Canada's immigration levels will remain unchanged from its current targets. In 2024, the country will target the admission of 485,000 new immigrants. In 2025 and 2026, Canada will look to welcome 500,000 new immigrants in each year.

The targets are the same as those announced under the Immigration Levels Plan 2023-2025. The new information released today is the 2026 target, as well as updates to the levels of immigrants that will be admitted under each class and program between 2024-2026.

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Breakdown of immigration targets by class

In 2024, Canada will look to welcome about 281,135 immigrants under the economic class, or 58% of the annual target. By 2026, this will rise to 301,250 immigrants, or 60% of the annual target.

The family class target, in 2024, will be 114,000 immigrants, or 24% of all admissions. This will rise to 118,000 immigrants by 2026, which will also be 24% of all admissions.

Humanitarian admission targets will be 89,865 immigrants in 2024, or about 19% of all admissions. These totals include refugees, protected persons, and those admitted for humanitarian, compassionate, or other reasons. By 2026, the target will be 80,832 immigrants, or 16% of admissions.

Note that figures may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

Express Entry and PNP targets to rise

The Express Entry target will be 110,700 permanent resident admissions in 2024, and this will rise to 117,500 immigrants in each of 2025 and 2026.

The Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) target will be 110,000 immigrants in 2024, and rise to 120,000 in 2025, and another 120,000 in 2026.

Spousal, Partner, and Children sponsorship has a target of 82,000 admissions in 2024, and this will rise to 84,000 in each of 2025 and 2026. Meanwhile, the Parents and Grandparents Program (PGP) target will be 32,000 immigrants in 2024, followed by 34,000 immigrants in each of 2025 and 2026.

Canadian government looking to stabilize immigration levels

Addressing why it is keeping its targets unchanged, the Canadian government explains: "This plan is tailored to support economic growth while balancing with the pressures in areas like housing, healthcare and infrastructure. It charts a responsible course for sustainable and stable population growth...Starting in 2026, the government will stabilize permanent resident levels at 500,000, allowing time for successful integration, while continuing to augment Canada’s labour market. The government also plans to take action over the next year to recalibrate the number of temporary resident admissions to ensure this aspect of our immigration system also remains sustainable."

Under the Immigration and Refugees Protection Act (IRPA), which is Canada's main immigration law, the federal government must release its annual immigration plan by November 1 in non-election years.

The Immigration Levels Plan acts as the guideline for the number of new permanent residents who will be admitted into Canada over the next three years under each of the three immigration classes: economic, family, and humanitarian.

The plan advances the mission of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to strengthen Canada’s economy, reunite families and make Canada a safe place for those fleeing oppression or other humanitarian crises.

In 2022, Canada broke the record for new immigrants at 437,000 admissions. The target for permanent resident admissions in 2023 is 465,000.

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Canada pursuing new strategy to improve immigration system

The Immigration Levels Plan 2024-2026 comes one day after Canada unveiled a new strategy to improve its immigration system. On October 31, Immigration Minister Marc Miller acknowledged shortcomings in the country's immigration system as he outlined the pillars of a new approach to modernize the system.

The new strategy, entitled An Immigration System for Canada's Future, has three major goals:

  • Create a more welcoming experience for newcomers
  • Align immigration with labour market needs
  • Develop a comprehensive and coordinated growth plan

IRCC is seeking to deliver a more pleasant and user-friendly experience to its clients.

In addition, IRCC would like to better align Canada's immigration policies with its skills and labour strategy.

Third, IRCC would like to develop an integrated plan among all three of Canada's levels of government to ensure the country can offer adequate housing, health care, and infrastructure to its growing newcomer population.

Canada began to increase immigration levels in the late 1980s

Canada’s immigration strategy began to shift toward its current form in the late 1980s. Before this, the government did not place as much emphasis on planning for future immigration and generally set immigration targets based on the economy of the day.

Canada welcomed fewer than 90,000 immigrants in 1984. As the 1990s approached, the federal government, run by the Conservative party at that time, realized there would soon be a shortage of labour and raised immigration targets to 250,000 new permanent residents over eight years.

The Liberal government was then elected in 1993 and continued to increase immigration targets. It also began to put more focus on admitting economic class immigrants and reducing Canada’s family and humanitarian class shares to help aid the economy in a recession.

Some 260,000 immigrants were then admitted annually until the current Liberal government was elected in 2015. Under the current federal government, led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, targets were raised to 300,000 and then to 340,000 shortly before the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

In 2021, despite pandemic restrictions, Canada broke its record for permanent resident admissions by landing 405,000 new immigrants.

Canada is currently coping with an affordability crisis and housing shortage that has led to several polls indicating less enthusiasm among Canadians for immigration than in previous years.

However, IRCC continues to maintain high immigration targets because of a shortage of skilled labour in the face of a low birth rate and the impending retirement of millions of Canadian workers as they reach 65. As it stands, Statistics Canada’s most recent population estimate shows that newcomers are responsible for 98% of Canada’s population growth.

The most recent job vacancy data shows that, as of July 2023, there were 701,300 vacant jobs in Canada. While this is a decrease of 273,700 open positions in a year-over-year period, it is still significant enough for IRCC to make some changes to prominent immigration programs and systems, such as Express Entry.

Earlier this year, to further target economic immigrants who are best suited to help Canada close the labour force gap, IRCC introduced category-based selection rounds of invitations for Express Entry candidates who have work experience in an in-demand sector, or the ability to promote the French language outside of Quebec.

Quebec also announced immigration plan today

Quebec also tabled its immigration levels plan for 2024 and 2025 today. Quebec is the only province in Canada with the ability to shape its annual permanent resident admissions targets. This is due to their special status in Canada. Quebec has the authority to shape its immigration targets to help preserve its distinct francophone character. Today, the province announced it will look to welcome 50,000 new immigrants in 2024, and another 50,000 immigrants in 2025.

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